Herod - First to Reject the Message

December 10, 2005 Matthew 2:1-12

Introduction:
1.  This morning, we’ll conclude our 2 part series
2.  Last week, we pointed out that it’s interesting to consider something (event, decision, etc.) through the eyes of another person
- when you do that – your perspective can change – that person brings a different perspective to the “table of life”
-  the example we studied last week was the perspective of the Shepherds in Luke 2 – and how their perspective was . . .
  I.  An incredible choice that God made to make this announcement to them
>  It was by God’s grace that He revealed this message to these ‘cultural rejects’ – but yet responsible and ordinary men!
II.  An incredible message that was given to them– 2:10-14
> The good news of great joy was for everybody that God has given us a Savior! – v. 11
III.  An incredible response they gave to that message:
>  They exercised their BELIEF (faith), they did what they were told (OBEDIENCE) and they were SERVANTS and left the whole situation GLORIFYING AND PRAISING GOD – v. 20
4. Today, our study takes us to Matthew 2
- let’s look at Christmas Through the Eyes of Herod:  One of the first to REJECT the message of Christ as the King of the Jews – ultimately, the King of Kings! [READ 2:1-12]
- Jerry Jamison, one of our Deacons, suggested we title the study: Herod – The Original Grinch
Input:  What words would you use to describe Herod’s response to the arrival of the magi in Jerusalem (2:2)?
[various answers] -- remember, these events occurred about 1 year after the birth of Christ
- let’s look at this even though Herod’s eyes and start from the beginning:


  I.  Herod’s Historical Perspective (View of His Heritage)


- there are several “Herods” mention in the NT – this one is known as “Herod the Great,” and is the first of the several Herods
- Julius Caesar had appointed Antipater (Ann-tip-pa-ter), to be governor, of Judea under the Roman occupation.
- Antipater then managed to have his son, Herod, appointed a ‘king’ (over Galilee)
-  Serving as a king, Herod was successful in putting down the Jewish guerilla bands that continued to fight against their foreign rulers.
A. Herod was NOT a Jew
- in fact, Herod was an Edomite (or from Idumea – pronounced = Id –do – me –ah)
Point: He was NOT a full-blooded Jew – he was a descendant of Esau!
> This pictures of the old struggle between Esau and Jacob that began even before the boys were born (Gen. 25:19–34 – summarize the struggle & why; it continues today!).
>  It’s also a picture of the spiritual warfare going on between the flesh and the spiritual, between the godly and the worldly.
- therefore . . . Point:  *  Herod had no legitimate claim to be a Jewish king – it was only a result of the Roman rule of that day!
B.  Herod’s character and conduct
-  While he had some good qualities [sensitive to the needs of the poor during the Famine of 25 B.C.], he was NOT a godly ruler!
- Basically, * Herod was cruel and merciless – he was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power.
Examples: Fearing his potential threat:
(1) he had the high priest (Aristobulus), who was his wife’s (Mariamne) brother drowned –
(2) he then put on an elaborate funeral where Herod pretended to weep.
(3) He then had his wife killed, and then
(4) her mother and two of his own sons.
(5) 5 days before his death (about a year after Jesus was born) he had a third son executed.
One of the greatest evidences of his bloodthirstiness and insane cruelty was having the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died – in order to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. That barbaric act was exceeded in cruelty only by his slaughter of “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16) in hopes of killing any threat to his throne from the One the magi said had been born King of the Jews.  MacArthur
Point: Not everybody looks at Christmas through a biblical grid – because God’s perspective is not even on their radar screen!
Examples:  This whole “Happy Holidays” – “Season’s Greeting” – let’s change Martin Luther King’s birthday to “All Good People Who Stand Up for What They Think Is Right” Day!
- let’s look more closely at the perspective of this ‘king’


II.  Herod’s View of the Event


- I think we could use words like:  antagonistic, hateful, devious, and destructive
Q: What does Herod’s response tell us about the magi’s statement or about Jesus’ true identity?
> gives credibility to the magi’s statements a/b Christ & indicate Jesus’ true royalty/Kingship!
- Even Herod knew that he himself was a usurper to the throne upon which he sat only by virtue of Rome (who ruled Judah only by the “right” of military force)
- as a result, when Herod heard about v. 2 (i.e. the coming/response of the magi):
 Matthew 2:2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."  3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
A.  Disturbed: The truth was troubling to him
troubled = disturbed, upset; terrified, frighten; stirred up (like water)  
Q: What was so troubling?
> Herod was fearful and even hated the suggestion of competition for his throne
- notice that Herod’s response was exactly the opposite of the magi’s responded
Q: How did the magi respond?  2:10
 Matt. 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
- but Herod was TROUBLED
The king’s anxiety is not hard to understand. In the first place, he was sitting on a political and religious powder keg. He had driven the Parthians out of Palestine but had to continue fighting the bands of Jewish zealots who wanted their country to be free from Roman occupation and domination. Especially in light of his intense jealousy and paranoia, any mention of another king of the Jews sent him into a frenzy of fear and anger.  MacArthur
Note:  His influence on others . . . and all Jerusalem with him.
- the people in Jerusalem being troubled about all this may indicate that their concern, like Herod’s, was political and military.
- The magi could be viewed as a military threat to them (another conquest by the Parthians)
> i.e. assuming the magi were sent ahead to discover or perhaps even crown some new king that would rule Palestine in Parthia’s behalf – like Herod ruled it in Rome’s behalf.
- it’s probably more like that the people in Jerusalem were more troubled about Herod’s reaction to this ‘new king’ (remember his track record!)
> Herod wasn’t careful w/whom he killed or even if he had the right person – he tended to wipe out all threats & not ask questions! – Therefore, their fear was real!
- And because Herod was disturbed about all this [which is a HEART ISSUE] he got all the Jewish religious leaders together – this group were both politicians and theologians
> but even they had a different agenda than Jesus did – they wanted to be rid of Rome – not rid of their bondage to sin by embracing the Savior and King of Kings!
- Herod started asking questions about where this so-called king was to be born!
- the imperfect tense of “inquire” suggests a constant asking
- they gave him the information he wanted – quoting Micah 5:2 that the birth would be in Bethlehem (this verse does not include ‘shepherd My people’)
- The combination of this child being a “Ruler” & a “Shepherd” was even more troubling!
Though the popular idea of a shepherd is that of kind, tender care (Ps. 23), the Scripture emphasis is also on authority and strong, even stern, leadership. The combination of a Ruler who will shepherd shows that the shepherding function is more than tender care. It is sovereign dominance. . . . The point is that the statement here in Matthew is a consistent elucidation of the idea of a shepherd’s being a Ruler, and thus fits the intent of Micah’s prediction. Unlike Herod, Jesus not only would be a legitimate King of the Jews, but would also be the final and perfect Ruler of Israel.  MacArthur
* Here is a summary of each party’s involvement in this Christmas message:   Wiersbe
 Herod was opposing the King – just like many do today
 The Jewish priests were ignoring the King. – just like some do today
 The magi were seeking the King – just like God’s people have done for centuries
- the led to the next step in Herod’s perspective of this new born king:
B.  Deception: Secretly calling the magi – 2:7
 Matthew 2:7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
-  Herod was concerned about the exact time of the star’s appearance – to properly handle this threat to his throne, he needed specifics!
-  The time of the star’s appearance would indicate the age of the child who had been born so Herod could do something about it (i.e. eliminate the threat)
* The deception came when he hypocritically gave them a good-sounding reason for wanting to know the exact location and identity of the Child = “that I too may come and worship Him.”
- what he eventually DID revealed what was in his heart (Prov. 23:7 – quote)
Q: What happened when the magi were obedient to the Lord’s leading (2:12) and did not report back to Herod?
- it lead to his next perspective:
C.  Desperate: Herod was exceedingly angry – v. 16
IMPORTANT: When you reject the truth – when truth becomes ‘troubling’ to you – deceit and desperation is right around the corner!
 Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry [it was OK for him to be a liar/deceiver/hypocrite – but not anybody else]; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
Q: What was Herod trying to accomplish?
A:  To guarantee, he thought, the destruction of his rival newborn “King.”
- this was the ultimate example of child abuse – the murder of innocent children
> imagine a new born up to the age of two years being killed by a Roman soldier!
- This is where the rejection of the truth will take you – anger, bitterness, revenge – DESPERATE and DESTRUCTIVE LIFE STYLE!
- but not only did that not work, v. 15 and v. 19 reveal the most tragic perspective of Herod
D.  Death: ‘but when Herod died’ – v. 19
 Matthew 2:19 But when Herod died . . .
- this is a reminder of Hebrews 9:27:
 Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
- Herod just didn’t die physically – there is certainly no biblical record that he ever repented – therefore, he also died spiritually
- Imagine 2,000 years in hell – ADD eternity to that perspective!
Conclusion:
1.  The irony in all this is at every level, or for every perspective that Herod displayed – * Jesus is the ANSWER to every wrong view of life:
Disturbed: He is the Wonderful Counselor and would eventually send ‘the Comforter’ (John 14:16)
Note: He even said to His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled …” 14:1 – same word used of Herod’s response to the magi
Deceived: He is the Way and the Truth (John 14:6)
Desperate: He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace (Ish. 9:6)– in Him dwells all the fullness of the God-head bodily (Col. 2:9)– and you can come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help you in the time of need (Heb. 4:16)
Death: He is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25)
2. While the shepherds were the 1st to RECEIVE the message – Herod was one of the 1st to REJECT the message
- and CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES!



ABF: Christmas Series
“Christmas Through the Eyes of Herod – First to Reject the Message”
Matthew 2
Introduction:
Input:  What words would you use to describe Herod’s response to the arrival of the magi in Jerusalem (2:2)?

  I.  Herod’s Historical Perspective (View of His Heritage)
A. Herod was NOT a _________

*  Herod had no legitimate claim to be a Jewish king – it was only a result of the Roman rule of that day!

B.  Herod’s character and conduct
* Herod was ________ and ____________ – he was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power.
Examples:

One of the greatest evidences of his bloodthirstiness and insane cruelty was having the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died – in order to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. That barbaric act was exceeded in cruelty only by his slaughter of “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16) in hopes of killing any threat to his throne from the One the magi said had been born King of the Jews. MacArthur

II.  Herod’s View of the Event
Q: What does Herod’s response tell us about the magi’s statement or about Jesus’ true identity?

A.  _____________: The truth was troubling to him
troubled = disturbed, upset; terrified, frighten; stirred up (like water)  
The king’s anxiety is not hard to understand. In the first place, he was sitting on a political and religious powder keg. He had driven the Parthians out of Palestine but had to continue fighting the bands of Jewish zealots who wanted their country to be free from Roman occupation and domination. Especially in light of his intense jealousy and paranoia, any mention of another king of the Jews sent him into a frenzy of fear and anger. MacArthur
Note:  His influence on others . . . and all Jerusalem with him.
* The combination of this child being a “Ruler” and a “Shepherd” was even more troubling!
Though the popular idea of a shepherd is that of kind, tender care (Ps. 23), the Scripture emphasis is also on authority and strong, even stern, leadership. The combination of a Ruler who will shepherd shows that the shepherding function is more than tender care. It is sovereign dominance. . . . The point is that the statement here in Matthew is a consistent elucidation of the idea of a shepherd’s being a Ruler, and thus fits the intent of Micah’s prediction. Unlike Herod, Jesus not only would be a legitimate King of the Jews, but would also be the final and perfect Ruler of Israel. MacArthur

* Here is a summary of each party’s involvement in this Christmas message: Wiersbe
 Herod was ____________ the King.
 The Jewish priests were ______________ the King.
 The magi were _______________ the King.
B.  ______________: Secretly calling the magi – 2:7
* The deception = “that I too may come and worship Him.”

C.  _______________: Herod was exceedingly angry – v. 16
Q: What was Herod trying to accomplish?

D.  _____________: ‘but when Herod died’ – v. 19
 Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
Conclusion:
* Jesus is the ANSWER to every wrong view of life:
Disturbed: He is the Wonderful Counselor and would eventually send ‘the Comforter’ (John 14:16)
Deceived: He is the Way and the Truth (John 14:6)
Desperate: He is “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace” (Ish. 9:6)– in Him “dwells all the fullness of the God-head bodily” (Col. 2:9)– and you can come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help you in the time of need (Heb. 4:16)
Death: He is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25)



ABF: Christmas Series
“Christmas Through the Eyes of Herod
– First to Reject the Message”
Matthew 2
Introduction:
Input:  What words would you use to describe Herod’s response to the arrival of the magi in Jerusalem (2:2)?
  I.  Herod’s Historical Perspective (View of His Heritage)
A. Herod was NOT a Jew
*  Herod had no legitimate claim to be a Jewish king – it was only a result of the Roman rule of that day!
B.  Herod’s character and conduct
* Herod was cruel and merciless – he was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power.
Examples:
Quote
II.  Herod’s View of the Event
Q: What does Herod’s response tell us about the magi’s statement or about Jesus’ true identity?
A.  Disturbed: The truth was troubling to him
troubled = disturbed, upset; terrified, frighten; stirred up (like water)  
Quote
Note:  His influence on others . . . and all Jerusalem with him.
* The combination of this child being a “Ruler” and a “Shepherd” was even more troubling!
Quote
* Here is a summary of each party’s involvement in this Christmas message:
 Herod was opposing the King.
 The Jewish priests were ignoring the King.
 The magi were seeking the King.
B.  Deception: Secretly calling the magi – 2:7
* The deception = “that I too may come and worship Him.”
C.  Desperate: Herod was exceedingly angry – v. 16
Q: What was Herod trying to accomplish?


D.  Death: ‘but when Herod died’ – v. 19
 Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
Conclusion:
* Jesus is the ANSWER to every wrong view of life:
Disturbed: He is the Wonderful Counselor and would eventually send ‘the Comforter’ (John 14:16)
Deceived: He is the Way and the Truth (John 14:6)
Desperate: He is “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace” (Ish. 9:6)– in Him “dwells all the fullness of the God-head bodily” (Col. 2:9)– and you can come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help you in the time of need (Heb. 4:16)
Death: He is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25)